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#pounditSaturday, July 2, 2022

James Harden misled Nets while pursuing exit strategy?

James Harden in his tank

James Harden seemingly told the Brooklyn Nets one thing while simultaneously doing something else throughout the season, according to a new report.

A feature by ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne and Adrian Wojnarowski dove deeply into the issues that led to Thursday’s blockbuster trade that saw Harden shipped to Philadelphia. One key point the report claims is that Harden assured the Nets he was committed to the organization while simultaneously speaking with agents about a possible exit strategy.

Harden had asked player agents about possible exit strategies for a move to Philadelphia early in the season, according to the report. At the same time, he assured Nets owner Joe Tsai and GM Sean Marks that he wanted to remain in Brooklyn long-term. He even told the Nets executives to not believe the rumors, and that if Harden had a problem, “you’ll hear from me directly.”

The information about Harden’s conversations with third parties reportedly got back to Brooklyn, forcing them to confront the possibility that their star guard was telling them one thing and doing the opposite. Harden had wanted to avoid asking for his second trade in as many years, but finally directly told the Nets that he wanted to go to the 76ers in the leadup to the trade deadline.

Harden clearly had a number of issues with the Nets by the time his tenure there ended. However, the reported way he went about forcing his way out of Brooklyn will leave a sour taste in everyone’s mouth, if true. There is nothing uncommon about star players assessing their options, but the report shows Harden clearly doing one thing while saying another. That will be a big point of frustration in Brooklyn.

Photo: Feb 1, 2022; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard James Harden (13) against the Phoenix Suns at Footprint Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

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